Much has been made of Jameis Winston's debut, and rightly so. The completion percentage and efficiency jump off the charts, there's no doubt. But the true promise, the real enthusiasm from 'Nole fans and interested observers, is rooted in the details.
Among Seminole baseball coach Mike Martin's favorite words of all time, poise was on display in droves Monday night. Winston showed it in his management of the huddle, the line of scrimmage and even in his postgame interview.
From a football standpoint, two examples of poise in the pocket stood above the others. The first touchdown pass, thrown to Nick O'Leary (who has a very happy Grandfather this morning), displays patience rooted in understanding of the offense. The ESPN broadcast pointed it out during the broadcast - Winston made the simple read that the free safety would be committing to the box. While the strong side had coverage, the weak was vulnerable right up the seam. Knowing O'Leary's route against this coverage look had to be quite the comforting feeling for Winston. But in order to deliver the strike, the redshirt freshman had to withstand a blitz, plus a speed rush to his right.
Although the perfectionist would probably look at this play and criticize Winston for not stepping up into the pocket or into his throw, the Seminole quarterback was unfazed by the pressure and delivered a strike to his tight end.
Another example of Winston's poise comes on the drive which put the Seminoles up 21-10. One play after the Kenny Shaw incompletion, his disputable first incompletion of the game, Winston stands tall on a 3rd-and-17 to deliver a strike for 20 yards up the seam to Rashad Greene.
Winston ends up taking a hit as he threw the ball, just an instant after this screenshot, but that did not matter.
Though this is more difficult to show with screenshots, Winston's anticipation was outstanding in Monday's debut. Whether it was the O'Leary throw discussed earlier, the Greene throw on that third down, or a host of comeback passes to Greene in the second half, Winston put the ball in a place the receivers were going to be, not where they were standing at release. Credit for this also must be given to the receivers, who had some quality moments in their own right last night. There's no doubt that Winston and the first-team targets have a good working relationship.
Is anticipation an obvious part of good quarterbacking? Absolutely. But delivering a pass routinely in stride and before a break are two details of the game that should not surface quite so commonly for a first start.
Jimbo Fisher was absolutely right when he cautioned everyone in the media room that Monday's performance was only one game. Winston was right to echo his coach. To expect this level of production week-in, week-out is still too much for right now. That point aside, this sparkling debut was jaw dropping not for the numbers, but some of those veteran-like details. The question now becomes were those moments on Monday flashes of a growing quarterback, or the norm for an instant-producer?
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